Paralympic stars have occupied the collective mental space of the country, now India has to lean on it

There is a lot of buzz – and rightly so – as Indian athletes return home from the Tokyo Paralympics with a significant and unprecedented collection of 19 medals, including five gold medals. Unfortunately, instead of recognizing the achievements of the Paralympic Games, the larger discourse is about how they did better than their counterparts in the Olympic Games.

Is it fair or even fair to compare the results of the Paralympic Games with those of the Olympic Games? Certainly not. In fact, it is blatantly unfair to the athletes who take part in any celebration of the sport. It is best for everyone to resist the temptation to fall into the trap and conclude that the success of the Paralympic Games outperforms the spectacle of the seven Olympic medals.

Instead of celebrating everyone’s success, some who do not understand the nuances of competitive sports have decided to blame the spectacle of the Olympics. Every athlete, whether at the Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games, does everything to be the best on the biggest stages. Some face more difficult challenges than others. This does not require comparisons.

It is noteworthy, however, that only 19 other countries won more medals at the Tokyo Paralympics than India, which won 19, including five gold and eight silver medals. From one medal each in archery and table tennis to eight in athletics, from four in badminton to five in shooting, India stood on the podium in five of the nine disciplines it competed in.

Let’s try to examine the reasons for such a harvest at the Paralympic Games. Obviously, India has done a few good things so that its athletes can win more medals in a single edition than the 12 in their entire history of playing in the country’s Games. Identifying these factors will ensure their long-term sustainability.

The gathering of all stakeholders – the government, the Indian Paralympic Committee and other national sports associations that organize events for athletes with disabilities, as well as non-governmental organizations – is the most important factor. Instead of pulling in different directions, there has been a concerted movement to find a common way for India to move forward.

From athletes and coaches to organizations like the Indian Sport Authority and the Indian Paralympic Committee, the campaign was driven by a great sense of purpose. During the lockdown and beyond, athletes could prepare with little fuss or worry. And they reached Tokyo in good shape for the past two years despite insufficient competition.

It is known that the Indian Paralympic Committee administers athletics, weightlifting, shooting, swimming, while the holding of Paralympic events in archery, badminton, canoeing, table tennis and taekwondo is associated with the federations or the respective national sports. With more coordination, India could be more successful.

Be it to help Bhavina Patel to play table tennis at home or to finance the three-year stay of the high jumper Sharad Kumar in the Ukraine in order to train, be it to Singhraj Adhana building a 50-meter facility at home or State intervention has played a major role in securing wheelchairs or special prostheses for many athletes.

Another reason – and this needs serious investigation – is the increased awareness that the rewards that follow successes in the Paralympic Games and the Asian Paralympic Games are significantly higher and faster than the income that can be earned from taking it . Perhaps awareness of the benefits of competitive sports has now grown.

In addition, athletes and coaches have professionalized themselves in their pursuit of fame and have found some very innovative solutions that lead them to the podium. District Judge LY Suhas’ decision to take badminton competitions seriously and his decision to train at night is just one example.

So what can India do after the unprecedented success of the Paralympic Games?

Let us first look at it from the perspective of the sports administration. Since the Indian Paralympic Committee manages four of the nine sports the country competed in in Tokyo, it needs to strengthen its relationships with other national sports federations to ensure better coordination and transparency.

For example, until a year ago, Para Shooters took part in events organized by the National Rifle Association of India. This year, for the first time, the Indian Paralympic Committee held an inconspicuous National Paralympic Archery Championship in Faridabad. It doesn’t hurt to contact these national sports federations and ask for their support.

In addition, the state governments can spend more on sport and create an infrastructure that is accessible to parasport enthusiasts. In this way, they can complement the central government’s efforts to support elite athletes. States can truly reap the rewards of their own efforts and help India take more effective steps towards becoming a sports nation.

The general public can not only cheer for para-athletes when they show up at the Paralympic Games and Para-Asia Games. But to do this, organizations that organize competitions need to be more proactive and share more information with the media. This is also the case here with the national sports associations of the Olympic disciplines.

Especially now that the stars of the Paralympic Games have occupied its collective mental space, India needs to build on the accomplishments. And one of the most important roles parasports can play is educating more Indians about inclusion, especially in the education and employment of people with disabilities. More importantly, more people become more sensitive to them.

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